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The Virgin Sister’s Song

by Mark Prudowsky
Asheville, North Carolina

Ah Maria Elena,
Its May again.
I hear your Virgin Sister’s soothing song
on your Brownsville parcela; feel
the garish date palms shimmering along the dirt path
to your cinder block home
without a roof.
Without money to pay the carpintero;
you laughed, saying it was
best this way.
Best open to the sky, best
open to the falcons winging the arroyo that
separates you from the dusted cotton fields.

After your call, I come to visit. It’s May --
after the white rain.
Now the sun, one of your lovers, you giggle,
can only inflict pain;
like all men do eventually,
even the good ones, you smile, glancing at me.

To shield your once
smooth brown face
I erect a tin roof, apologizing from atop the ladder
for my lack of craft, while you
smile beneath me
at the stove, stirring the menudo.

Your forehead and cheeks are red exfoliations of skin.
A flake off your cheek floats to the oiled
surface bubbling round your wooden spoon.
How’d it happen, I whisper, holding your hands.
The tears well under your eyes
spilling salt to fester in the chemical puckers
of your cheeks -- burning pain on top of pain.

A crop duster -- maybe he didn’t see me --
you sigh, came bellowing out of the sky
and loosed a cloud of fine
white death. You joked that you looked
like a ghost from dia de los muertos.
But the spirits from the graveyard fly free of pain
when they come to visit
in the night of the shortening season. No

Maria Elena, I think you’re more
like your precious Hermana de Guadalupe
who sang songs with you while you picked cotton and strawberries
in the thorny, heated harvests of your childhood.
Today, she sings with you – now
in your kitchen -- and
laughs with you at the conceits
of her baby Jesus.

Published in In Motion Magazine June 8, 2003.

About the author: "I'm a fifty year old undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Currently a licensed electrical contractor, I'm pursuing a B.A. and plan on teaching high school when I graduate in May of 2004." - Mark Prudowsky

Also read: Opening up the Canon - by Mark Prudowsky

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